The Act, written by Joe Biden, enacted by the Clinton administration in 1994, does some very simple and important things to protect and assist victims of sexual violence and abuse: it funds rape crisis centers and hotlines, allows for the creation of community programs to prevent violence, protects victims who have lost their homes due to domestic violence or stalking, and creates programs to address the unique needs of immigrant women, women of different ethnicities, and women with disabilities.
The ACLU described the Act this way: “VAWA is one of the most effective pieces of legislation enacted to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It has dramatically improved the law enforcement response to violence against women and has provided critical services necessary to support women in their struggle to overcome abusive situations.”
When Barack Obama was running for President in 2008, he promised to fully fund the Act. According to PolitiFact.com, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Political Reporting, he has more than fulfilled that promise. After citing the Office of Management and Budget, which says that Obama’s budget for 2011 “includes $538 million, an increase of $120 million, to support women victims of violence, including domestic abuse and sexual assault victims,” PolitiFact goes on to state that President Obama has increased funding for the Act in his 2010 budget and has requested further increases for 2011.
“Promise kept,” concludes PolitiFact.
As of this writing, House Republicans are delaying the 2012 reauthorization of this bill; they have proposed an alternate version (which the NY Times characterized as “regressive”) that differs from the version President Obama has proposed in that it would exclude his new proposed protections for gay, immigrant, American Indian and student victims.